I’m a real kraal woman, I accompany the cows everywhere they move to. At the peak of migration, I pick my gourd, my skin, my source pans, my funnel, beddings for shepherds and tie on my back while holding my milk and butter in my hands, not only do I carry those, even newly born lambs are part of my luggage, I carry them along, I can put them on my luggage on my back or on my head till the destined new Kraal.
On arrival to the new Kraal, I put my luggage down and clear the grass. It’s my role to construct shelters, so I go fetch big logs, sometimes the young shepherds help me mostly with the cutting of the logs and when they do that, I step back and first go back to separate the young lambs from the rest of the goats, water the animals and later fetch some water for the shepherds too. After construction, I set the grinding stone, start grinding cereals, when the sun is almost setting, I go look for heavy logs to be used at night for warming ourselves. I throw one at the sleeping point of the boys and another for the elders. As days progress, my day to day tasks revolve on fetching water for the kraal members, watering the animals, fetching firewood to warm the shepherds at the fireplace and making meals among other tasks that come a long.
When the water points are distant, it becomes hard for woman to water the animals. When I find this difficulty in the kraal, I request elders to relocate to a place closer to water points. I do advise them to seek guidance from government on the available and accessible water points. Distant water points mean a heavy burden workload to a woman, since they are left with little time to prepare meals and water lambs and the young herders starved.
Due to weather changes, when the grass dries up, we make recommendations for the movement of the kraal to other locations. At this point, our kraal members have to seek permission from the neighbouring kraals whose pasture is still good enough. We only move to their location after permission has been granted. Migrations are sparked off by several factors including; scarcity of grass, outbreak of diseases, insecurity among others.
In the past, we could migrate to very far places at the onset of drought, however it’s not the case today, we have increasingly embraced the practice of preserving rangelands; practicing rotational and seasonal grazing. So people graze in certain range lands in dry season and in other rangelands in wet season. The rangelands for the big cattle and the young ones are not the same, each of these categories have their own in each of the seasons. This is good enough because everyone can create and preserve their own rangeland and these are close to water sources in most cases hence making my work as a woman easier. There is no job as hard as that of a woman collecting water from a very long distance to water hundreds of cows.
Interview & transcription by: Esther Atem
Edited by: Atem, Lomuria, and Lolek